Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sweet-swinging Scott among favourites in Hawaii

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KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Amid the chatter of holidays and college football, Adam Scott already was hard at work on the far end of the range at Kapalua.

He finished up a jumbo-sized bucket of balls by hitting some 20 shots with a 5-iron, turning the green turf into a square patch of brown with each divot. Scott never seemed satisfied. His only conversation with Brad Malone, his swing coach and brother-in-law, was whether he was set properly at the top of his swing.

"No time for a break," he said when he was done, his tanned face dripping with sweat.

It's almost as though last year never ended, and Scott would love that to be the case.

His plan to play less and gear his game more toward the majors paid off in a big way when Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters. And he didn't stop there. He had the outright lead on the back nine of the British Open until tying for third. He was on the fringe of Sunday contention at the PGA Championship and tied for fifth. And then he won the toughest FedEx Cup playoff event, twice more in Australia and captured the team portion of the World Cup with Jason Day.

Scott ended the year at No. 2 in the world, closer to the top than he has ever been. On Thursday, the Golf Writers Association of America announced he had won its male player of the year in a narrow race -- five votes -- against Tiger Woods.

Now for the encore.

"My goal is to win majors -- and now I can say 'majors' and not just one," Scott said with a smile. "I think I'm heading in the right direction. I don't want to change too much from last year."

The start of the new year is more like the end of a long stretch for Scott.

He is among the favourites when the Hyundai Tournament of Champions gets underway today on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, part of a 30-man field comprised only of players who won on the PGA Tour last year.

Dustin Johnson is the defending champion. Only nine players are back from last year at Kapalua, a testament to how much tougher it is getting to win on the PGA Tour, and the field features 13 players who won for the first time.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 3, 2014 C5

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